I am pleased to present David Lawlor today for Author Wednesday. David’s visited my blog several times before and I’ve reviewed his Liam Mannion books here, but today he’s stopping by to tell us about his new release, which is a departure from his usual historical fiction set in Ireland in the post World War I era. I’ll let this talented author and editor take if from here to tell you about High Crimes.
From David: I’ve written four historical fiction novels – three following the adventures of Liam Mannion from World War I, through the Irish War of Independence and on to the Irish Civil War, so stalkers and sex abusers in modern Dublin are not my usual subject matter. Yet that is what I found myself writing about in my new novel, High Crimes.
The seed of an idea came one night while watching a five-minute documentary on television. It was filmed from the perspective of a crane operator, with various operators talking about their work and what they see from their lofty viewing point. One man on the programme told of how, every day, he used to see a woman strip naked and set about cleaning her apartment.
It was such a strange image that I wondered what would compel her to do such a thing – and what the crane operator really thought about it as he watched her. From there, the ball started rolling and soon I had added several more apartment block residents who were living under the watchful gaze of my crane operator, Tommy Reynolds.
Tommy is a seriously disturbed individual. He’s arrogant, conniving, and quite brutal in what he says and how he goes about following his subjects. He does not self-censor but gives full vent to his feelings. He speaks direct to the reader in a full-on verbal assault. You might wonder what research I did for Tommy – how I tapped into his sociopathic nature. Well, er, aside from reading up on how cranes operate, very little. The fact is that all that venting he does came from inside me (which makes me wonder about myself sometimes, but that’s another story entirely). We all self-censor – that’s the norm in a civilized society – so, to be able to let fly with the most inappropriate and hurtful of comments was liberating. Yes, Tommy is nasty, but he was also great fun to write.
Less fun was my other arch villain – an ex-priest, Cathal Mac Liam, who is a paedophile. Mac Liam is pure evil. In the past, he abused his victims in orphanages, now he uses the internet to find them and to traffic children to be abused by others.
I read several articles, written by both the abused and the abuser, to get a sense of what Mac Liam should be like. That research proved to be truly shocking. A lot of his thoughts are actually taken from real case histories, as was some of the chat-room dialogue I used in the book. My character may seem far-fetched to some but, believe me, real people like him are out there doing terrible things to children.
My stalking victims are varied. There’s Maggie, a policewoman whose childhood was destroyed and whose entire life has been blighted by the memories of her abuse at the hands of Mac Liam. Then there’s Jack, a widowed soldier trying to come to terms with why his wife drowned herself and their infant son. There’s also Paddy, who is struggling to cope with his wife’s dementia and with a disowned drug addict son. Ann, a high-flier in a government department, is building a new life for herself in Dublin following years spent in New York. Finally, there’s Ernie, a talented artist who starts using cranes in his paintings as a motif.
Mac Liam impacts almost all of their lives, while Tommy watches them from his crane, filming and following, and listening, too, until finally he worms his way into their lives with deadly consequences.
Reynolds and Mac Liam are vile. We marvel at their cruelty and feel sympathy for their victims. Unfortunately, sometimes those victims are pushed beyond all endurance and see suicide as the only recourse. I thought it would be good to see the victims finally stand up and fight back, which is what happens in this book.
The tone of High Crimes is very different to that of my historical fiction trilogy – Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors. Finding that new voice was exciting as was writing a story set in the modern world. That doesn’t mean I’m done with the past. I have a soft spot for Liam Mannion, the hero of my trilogy, and he’ll be reappearing in a new book further down the line.
The beauty of fiction is that we can immerse ourselves in any world we choose – that goes for the author as much as the reader. It’s why I’m hooked on writing and why I’ll keep doing it as long as my body and my mind allow.
I’m glad that you are going to keep putting out suspenseful and powerful novels.
About David: David Lawlor has worked as a journalist for the past twenty-five years and is currently Associate Editor with The Herald newspaper in Dublin. He’s also a book editor. [Note: David was my editor for Native Lands.] To date, he’s published three novels in the Liam Mannion series – Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors, which are historical fiction thrillers set during the Irish War of Independence, in 1921. His first a contemporary novel is High Crimes.
Other Author Wednesday posts about David Lawlor:
Book reviews of David Lawlor’s Liam Mannion novels: